French and Francophone Studies

Graduate Program

The graduate program curriculum covers fields in French and Francophone literature from the Ancien Régime to the present and from a variety of theoretical perspectives.

The doctoral program in French and Francophone Studies offers a lively intellectual environment where students explore French and Francophone literatures and cultures across a broad chronological and topical range and through a wide variety of critical approaches.

Our goal is to train scholars and teachers who have a solid grounding in all periods of French and Francophone literatures and who think, write and teach creatively.

Program Benefits

Students in the graduate program profit from an annual calendar of lectures, mini-seminars and conferences, including Equinoxes, the annual graduate student conference. The Department of French and Francophone Studies shares, with the Department of Hispanic Studies, the beautiful Rochambeau House, where students have access to dedicated study space with computers, printers and scanners.

Graduate students at Brown also benefit from the accessibility of faculty across campus as well as the vitality of the humanities and associated fellowship and funding opportunities. Providence, Rhode Island is an affordable city with a vibrant cultural scene and an excellent quality of life.

The Ph.D. Year by Year

All graduate students must complete the Graduate School requirement of 24 tuition units.

In their first year, graduate students normally take 8 courses: 3 departmental seminars plus one other relevant course in the fall semester; and 2 departmental seminars, French 2900 (Teaching Methods), plus one other relevant class in the spring. Courses and schedules, and other matters relating to students’ individual programs are determined in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. For each course the student receives a Course Performance Report after the conclusion of the course (for courses taken in departments that depart from this practice the CPR may consist in communications between the appropriate instructor or DGS and the French DGS).

First-year students receive a mid-year evaluation from the DGS near the beginning of the spring semester. At the end of the academic year each student receives a Performance Evaluation which is uploaded to the online GSIM system. The faculty mentor assigned to each student upon entering the program serves as the student's advisor for the first academic year.

Students are on fellowship and do not teach during their first year.

Students entering the program with a Masters degree for which they have received 8 graduate credits take the 1st Prelim. Exam at or around the time of the Labor Weekend holiday and, presuming they pass, proceed to prepare the 2nd Prelim. Exam. 

In their second year, students (entering with the Bachelors degree) normally take 6 classes in their second year (3 departmental seminars in the fall semester, and 2 departmental seminars plus one other relevant class in the spring). They proceed to prepare the 1st Prelim., beginning by consulting with the DGS and forming a committee as outlined in the Graduate Handbook.

Students begin their teaching practice as TAs during the second year.

Until they have completed the 1st Prelim. students are required to take all graduate seminars offered by the Department. In instances where the DGS deems it necessary a student may be required to take classes beyond the 1st Prelim.

In their third year, students complete remaining coursework. All students are expected to have completed the 2nd Prelim. Exam by the end of their third year.

Subsequent years are devoted to preparation of the Dissertation Prospectus and to research for and writing of the Dissertation.

Students receive a second year of Dissertation Fellowship support during their period of research and writing, following consultation with the DGS.

Milestone Requirements for all levels of the Ph.D. program are listed at the end of the Graduate Handbook. Continued funding is dependent on students’ completion of appropriate Milestones. Students who do not meet Milestones may have their GSIM status changed to Satisfactory or Warning.

Required Courses

All students must pass FREN 2900: Teaching Methods, and fulfill the language requirement. They must take departmental seminars as required before taking the 1st and 2nd Prelims., or as directed by the DGS. In some instances, and with the approval of the Graduate Committee, students may be exempted from these requirements on the basis of previous work or experience.


Students are paired with a faculty mentor in the first semester of their program so that they are immediately in contact with an informal advisor for any questions they wish to discuss. That relationship continues at least until the student begins work on the 2nd Prelim. Exam, and often continues beyond that time.

Once they begin the 2nd Prelim. Exam on, students work closely with the faculty member who will supervise their exam research, and eventually with their dissertation director.

Pedagogical Training

A notable strength of our program is the in-depth training and experience students gain in language teaching, under the expert guidance of our Department’s language acquisition specialists. Students serve as Graduate Teaching Assistants in our language program during their second, third, and fourth years, teaching one section per semester. Our TAs are fortunate to work with some of the very best undergraduates in the country and to avail themselves of the certificate programs offered by the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning.


As students progress within the program they are encouraged to give conference presentations and eventually to publish their work. To that end, financial assistance is offered for attendance at academic conferences; and workshops are given on a regular basis on topics such as preparing an article for submission and publication. The 2nd Prelim. Exam is designed to have students produce a publishable article by the end of their second or third year in the program.

Students are also encouraged to avail themselves of professionalization workshops and programs offered by the Graduate School or the university, including those designed to prepare students for non-academic positions.

Students preparing for the job market work closely with their director, committee, and other faculty to prepare CVs, application letters, writing samples and teaching portfolios.

Master's Degree

Students may graduate with the A.M (Masters degree) by completing one year of course work and a thesis of 50-60 pages; or two years of coursework. They must also demonstrate a reading knowledge of a foreign language other than French.